One of the Mastodon new user bumps is getting your head around the extra layer of your name or handle being doubled with the place you call home, both a positive for appreciating federation but maybe a complexity in unraveling names and links.

This also comes into play for those building tools, e.g. it gets tricky to make things work when it’s not as simple as seeing @cogdog and inferring that’s tied to a easily constructed URL like https://twitter.com/cogdog.

Here are a few things I’ve worked through or are trying to for a focus on fedispaces, over the single letter algebra variable one 😉

Mastodon Link Sharing

Let’s say you make web sites where you want a button or link to enable sharing of a current page, or maybe a dynamic URL on Mastodon. Easy in the old bird thing, because the sharing capability was appending to a simple url the string you wanted included. This is not possible in Mastodon, because we use different hoss, so we don’t know how to construct the URL.

This came into play for the Discourse powered OEG Connect community I tend/hustle where I have a add on component to create more options for link sharing than x-mail-facebook that come with Discourse. To add sharing to Mastodon, I need a URL pattern to use, which we do not know in advance.

Make your own! type into the web bar, replacing “mymastodoninsnce.social” with your fedihome
https://mymastoninstance.social/?text=@cogdog sent me here

(in practice, the string after text= needs to be “url encoded” but it will manage that in a browser, this is just to play)

And Boom! I found MastodonShare. It does this by first offering a window ask for your instance url (saving that to a friendly cookie so it knows next then) and then passing off the link share trigger.

Now you can try right now to see how it works.

It makes draft of a post which the specified text, which you can edit as desired before posting.

That will come in handy when I get around to swapping the spaces for the Daily Create theme (his will happen one day!). If you run discourse, you can see how I integrated mastodon link sharing where you can even use the share button to share that (have we self referenced enough?) or heck, masto share it now (you know you want ti try that link) (I hope).

I also note that MastodonShare has a nifty browser bookmarklet for sharing any web page to Mastodon which works better than a previous one I handcoded by inserting my specific instance.

If you like MastodonShare, give all the thanks to @barredo@mastodon.social or heck, just MastodonShare it!

What’s My Name?

Our handles are now multilayered, as I cannot simply go by @cogdog and you know where t–hat is- it works in single platform spaces like flickr, facebook, etc because there is a definite pattern that can be constructed for a link.

In Mastodon, we need to unravel that seeing @cogdog means going to a link like https://social.fossdle.org/@cogdog — that’s a lot to do by hand. Or if you see a url for a user’s Mastodon account, you have to do some manual unraveling to use that in a post to reference them.

If this gets confusing, I recommend Tara Calishan’s Mastodon Username Helper (part of the fabulous MastoGizmos collection, also blogged at ResearchBuzz). Enter your Mastodon username, and it gives you the link address, rss feed, and more.

I will note that you can have fun entering something like cogdog@twitter.com which is not, a mastodon instance. If it were me, I could have fun with an error check.

But yes, this double @ convention is needed but seems confusing. In our OEG Connect community, I added a profile field for people to include their Mastodon username when they signup or edit their profile. I tried to make it clear, but (shrug)

form field labeled --Fediverse User Name-- with instructions reading 
-- Enter identity in a federated social network such as Mastodon. Entries must in format @username@instance.name please only enter valid account names!

I use a data explorer tool to collect responses so I can add them to a directory we share, and I see maybe 20-25% are not entered as mastodon usernames, I see:

  • Mastodon profile urls (understandable)
  • Twitter or Linktree urls
  • single word user name
  • email addresses
  • random words

It’s going to take time for a better understanding of what a double @ handle means… @blah@domain Or we can hope, and also demonstrate.

Link Kerfluffle

Link sharing gets convoluted to. I can get a full link from my timeline to ResearchBuzz post from the web client, using the 3 dot menu in the bottom right and selecting “Copy Link to Post”, returning
https://researchbuzz.masto.host/@researchbuzz/111341032676214725

but if I use what I did on that older bird named platform, and right/control click on the timeline, I get a URL that might work as a link, but runs it through my own instance

which is a lot to unravel. That is just a habit to unlearn.

Recognizing Mastodon Links in a Blob of Text

I went through some gymnastics in working out an approach for identifying a mastodon link so I could generate an autoembed in WordPress. This meant pushing my minimal grep skills to look for a pattern of

https (or http) :// (domain name of instance) /@ (string of letters, numbers, -,_ in a username) / (string of digits for post id)

Somehow I got it to work… but since WordPress is integrating more Mastodon hooks maybe it will be an internally supported auto Embed in the future?

I can think too, it might be possible to autolink a text entered mastodon username in the form

@ (string of letters, numbers, -,_ in a username) @ (domain name)

to create a link to the profile?

It’s Evolving

It’s all new, and the complexities that you get for not being under the control of some maniacal rich egomaniac (fictional reference, of,course) means maybe asking a bit more of us as participants to learn new habits, and accept some of the complexity.

Links are what it’s all about in this web thing, so use ’em and become understandable of them. Ok?


Featured Image: Mine, made by me and a camera, zero AI. Links Across Time flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Thick chain of rusted links stretched across a weathered tree stump.
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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)

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